Step through the unassuming doors of the Museum of Cornish Life for a truly breath-taking surprise.
The museum is housed in the town’s historic Market Buildings and is spread over three floors. The thousands of objects will keep you fascinated and entertained. Watch this film to see a selection of our favourite objects.
The Museum Collection:
The museum houses one of the largest social history collections in the South West, and ranges from archaeological evidence of the earliest settlers to the Lizard Peninsula, to a fully stocked 1950s kitchen. Learn about Helston’s famous inventor, Henry Trengrouse, whose ingenuity helped to save thousands of lives at sea. Marvel at the huge 5 ton cider press, meet Henry the parrot, find out about Helston’s ancient spring festival Flora Day and see if you can spot our smallest object – made from a lion’s tooth.
History of the Museum as a Building:
Housed in Helston’s former Market House and Drill Hall, the museum building itself offers a valuable insight into the history and architecture of the town. Although the museum was founded in 1949, the building was originally designed as the town’s Market House in 1837, with two separate buildings – one for butter and eggs, the other the meat market, and retains the original sloping granite floor.
The Museum expanded into the meat market in the early 1980s, then into the adjoining Drill Hall in 1999. A suspended gallery, the Loft, was also added at this time that in turn allowed the creation of the temporary exhibition gallery.
A notable feature in front of the building is a cannon salvaged from the wreck of the frigate HMS Anson which foundered off Loe Bar in 1807. Around 100 sailors’ lives were lost in the disaster which led to the pioneering work of Henry Trengrouse, featured in the Museum’s Drill Hall.
History of the Museum:
The collection began in 1937 through the Old Cornwall Society and was displayed at points in the Guildhall. It opened as a museum, in the current building, in 1949. Previously run by South Kerrier District Council and Cornwall Council, management of the museum was taken over by the South Kerrier Heritage Trust in August 2013. The Trust is a local registered charity working with the community, and day to day work at the museum is largely undertaken by volunteers.
In 2018 the museum was renamed “Museum of Cornish Life” to reflect what is in the museum’s fabulous collection, not only to visitors, but funders too.
The museum is supported by a team of committed and dedicated volunteers. Community is the heart of the museum and we would like to share two recent projects:
‘Wish You Were Here’ was a project funded by Bright Sparks through FEAST and Cornwall Museums Partnership. This project is ongoing and allows residents in care homes to digitally dial-into the museum for a visit.
‘Making the Invisible Visible’ is a film that was created as part of a project to bring the museum together with Holifield Farm Project and Park View (both organisations offer day opportunities for adults with learning disabilities). The project was created by Open The Box Arts with the intention of giving a voice and visibility to adults with learning disabilities in the Helston area. This project was made possible with thanks to Lottery Players through the Community Fund.
Museum Director: Annette MacTavish has been in post for over three years and leads the team of four members of staff and a large group of volunteers. Contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Engagement Curator: Isobel King works part-time to support all aspects of community participation. She is also the point of contact for Arts Awards. The post is funded by Arts Council England through Cornwall Museums Partnership. Contact details are email@example.com
Intern: Rachel Haddy is our current intern working to support all aspects of the museum with a focus on the collections and sharing the stories connected to the objects. The role is funded by John Ellerman Foundation and Cultivator (a project supported by European Structural and Investment Funds, HM Government, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council) through Cornwall Museums Partnership. Contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org
Apprentice: Nina Verdon is our current apprentice with a focus on customer service. The role is funded by Arts Council England through Cornwall Museums Partnership. Contact details are email@example.com
Finds Liaison Officer: Lara Hogg is the Finds Liasion Officer for Cornwall. The role is funded through the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) which is managed by the British Museum. The scheme records archaeological finds discovered by the public. The post is also supported by Cornwall Council. Contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org
Feedback and Complaints:
We are always looking to learn, develop and grow. If you have feedback on your visit you can review us on TripAdvisor. If you would like to contact us directly please email email@example.com or call 01326 564027.
If you have a complaint please email firstname.lastname@example.org and all complaints will be dealt with in confidence and as speedily as possible. If you feel uncomfortable or conflicted about complaining to the director please write to Judith Haycock the Chair of Trustees.